Chewing Gum Can Reduce Calorie Intake,
Increase Energy Expenditure, Nutritionist Finds

ScienceDaily (Nov. 1, 2009) -- A nutrition professor at the University of Rhode Island studying the effects of chewing sugar-free gum on weight management has found that it can help to reduce calorie intake and increase energy expenditure.

Kathleen Melanson, URI associate professor of nutrition and food sciences, compared gum chewing to non-gum chewing in healthy adult volunteers who came to her lab for two standardized tests in random order. When study subjects chewed gum for a total of one hour in the morning (three 20-minute gum-chewing sessions), they consumed 67 fewer calories at lunch and did not compensate by eating more later in the day. Male participants also reported feeling significantly less hungry after chewing gum. Melanson also found that when her subjects chewed gum before and after eating, they expended about 5 percent more energy than when they did not chew gum. In addition, her subjects reported feeling more energetic after chewing gum.

"Based on these results, gum chewing integrates energy expenditure and energy intake, and that's what energy balance is about," Melanson said. According to the URI researcher, nerves in the muscles of the jaw are stimulated by the motion of chewing and send signals to the appetite section of the brain that is linked to satiety, which may explain why the act of chewing might help to reduce hunger.

Melanson said that she expected that chewing would increase the amount of energy her subjects expended. "However, what makes the energy expenditure data particularly interesting is that this study simulated real-life gum chewing, with the subjects chewing at their own relaxed, natural pace and for realistic time periods," she said.

In her study, 35 male and female subjects made two visits to the URI Energy Metabolism Lab after having fasted over night. During one visit, they chewed gum for 20 minutes before consuming a breakfast shake and twice more during the three hours before lunch. During both visits, participants remained as still as possible as measurements were conducted of their resting metabolism rates and blood glucose levels at regular intervals before and after breakfast and lunch. They also conducted periodic self-assessments of their feelings of hunger, energy and other factors during both visits.

"This was a short term study, so the next step is to do a longer study and to use subjects who need to lose weight," said Melanson. "But based on these initial results, one could hypothesize that gum chewing may be a useful adjunct to a weight management program."

The study was supported by a $25,000 research award from the Wrigley Science Institute that was presented during the 2007 annual meeting of The Obesity Society.

Chewing Gum Reduces Snack Cravings
And Decreases Consumption Of Sweet Snacks

ScienceDaily (Apr. 20, 2009) — Men and women who chewed Extra® sugar-free gum three times hourly in the afternoon chose and consumed less snacks and specifically, less sweet snacks than they did when they did not chew gum. They still reached for a variety of snacks provided but the decrease in overall snack intake was significant at 40 calories and sweet snack intake specifically was significantly lowered by 60 calories.

Researchers from the Pennington Biomedical Research Center and Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, La., presented study findings on April 19, 2009 at the Experimental Biology 2009 meeting in New Orleans.

The presentation by Dr. Paula J Geiselman, chief of womenÅs health and eating behavior and smoking cessation at Pennington, was part of the scientific program of the American Society for Nutrition. Earlier studies had found that gum chewing was associated with lower snack intake, but the study conducted by Dr. Geiselman is the first to examine the macronutrient composition of afternoon snack food choices made by men and women after chewing Extra® sugar-free gum.

The participants, 115 men and women, between the ages of 18 and 54, were all regular gum chewers. They came to the laboratory twice - once for the gum condition and the other for the no gum condition. During each visit, subjects were given sandwiches for lunch, nutrient rich enough to account for one fourth of their recommended daily caloric intake. They remained in the laboratory and for the next three hours, they either chewed Extra sugar-free gum for 15 minutes hourly for three hours or did not chew gum.

Participants filled out questionnaires rating their self-perceived levels of hunger, cravings for snacks and energy levels. Three hours after lunch, they were offered a variety of snacks including high sugar foods and high complex carbohydrate foods that contained either high or low fat. Subjects could eat as much as they wanted of any or all snack food categories.

When they chewed gum, on average, they reported significantly decreased feelings of hunger and cravings for something sweet. In addition, the gum chewers felt they maintained energy levels throughout the afternoon and also felt significantly less drowsy at hours two and three before the afternoon snack.

According to Dr. Geiselman, "Overall, this research demonstrates the potential role chewing gum can play in appetite control, reduction of snack cravings and weight management. Even small changes in calories can have an impact in the long term. And, this research supports the role of chewing gum as an easy, practical tool for managing snack, especially sweet snack, intake and cravings.

The research was supported by a grant from the Wrigley Science Institute.

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